When working in heavy construction and industrial environments, employees are exposed to many potential injuries, with some more common than others. It’s important to know how to recognize these injuries and treat them properly to both keep your employees healthy and reduce your recordable incidents.
Remote Medical International has provided on-site medical staff for industrial and challenging project sites for over 10 years. Through this experience, we’ve seen just about every occupational injury in the book. Below are the top three injuries we see on-site, and our recommendations for how to treat them.
1. Eye Injuries
Did you know that 40% of all U.S. non-fatal workplace eye injuries happen in manufacturing, construction, and mining? Workers who have a higher risk of exposure to harmful environments or substances, or have contact with objects or equipment, can experience eye injuries.
Most Common Eye Hazards
Ways to Prevent Eye Injuries
|Flying Objects||Projectiles: Use appropriate safety glasses or consider using additional protection such as a face shield|
|Harmful Particle Dust||Projectiles: Use appropriate safety glasses or consider using additional protection such as a face shield|
|Chemical Splashing or Spraying||Chemicals: Use best practices to reduce exposure; be informed about the chemical’s minimal personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements|
|High Intensity Heat or Light||Radiation: Use the correct PPE to ensure appropriate filtering of visible and non-visible light|
|Welding, Brazing and Torch Lighting||Blood-borne pathogens: Anticipate potential exposure and use the concepts of universal precautions to mitigate risks|
|Direct or Reflected Sunlight||Eye Strain: Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet (6 meters) away|
|Harmful Radiation||Debris: Always brush, shake, or vacuum dust and debris from hardhats, hair, forehead, and your brow before removing protective eyewear|
|Bacteria: Don’t rub eyes with dirty hands or clothing, and clean eyewear regularly|
Eye injuries don’t necessarily require antibiotics, and one way to treat an eye injury without it being considered a recordable is to use lubricating drops and eye washing.
2. Hand Injuries
In 2016, there were 1,118,400 nonfatal occupational hand injuries involving days away from work. The most common hand injuries include laceration, crush, avulsion, puncture and/or fracture.
Make sure to wear protective gear, which includes these types of gloves while working on-site:
- Fabric and fabric coated gloves: Protect against dirt, chafing and abrasions
- Leather, canvas, metal, or mesh gloves: Protect against cuts, burns and punctures
- Insulated rubber gloves: Protect against electrical hazards
- Chemical and liquid resistant gloves: Protect against chemicals with a high acute toxicity, corrosive materials, handling chemicals for extended periods of time, or immersing all, or part of a hand, into a chemical
To avoid hand injuries, do not use unprotected or faulty machinery, or equipment or use tools improperly. It is important not to wear jewelry, gloves, or loose-fitting clothing if they may get caught in machinery, or around moving parts. Don’t forget to take breaks if you perform constant repetitive motions, use the wrong glove for the task, or forget to check them for wear and damage.
The first thing Remote Medical International medics take care of is the patient, and sometimes, hand injuries aren’t as severe as they look. Many small lacerations and do not call for stitches, and one way to reduce recordables is to use steri strips instead.
3. Back Injuries
Musculoskeletal disorders continue to be a leading cause of lost-time injuries among U.S. workers, accounting for 36.6% of all lost-time nonfatal cases.
When lifting heavy equipment or objects, make sure to stretch as a part of a comprehensive ergonomic program. Before lifting, always test the load for stability and weight. For loads that are unstable or heavy, follow management guidelines for equipment use, reducing the weight of the load, and repacking containers to increase stability.
Before you lift, also wear appropriate shoes to avoid slips, trips or falls. If you wear gloves, choose the size that fits properly. Lift only as much as you can safely handle by yourself. Keep the lifts in your power zone (e.g. above the knees, below the shoulders, and close to the body). Use extra caution when lifting loads that may be unstable.
When lifting heavy objects, start by getting a secure grip and use both hands whenever possible. Avoid jerking by using smooth, even motions and keep the load as close to your body as possible. To the extent feasible, use your legs to push up and lift the load, not the upper body or back.
Remember: nose over toes.
Do not twist your body; step to one side or the other to turn. Alternate heavy lifting or forceful exertion tasks with less physically demanding tasks. Take resting breaks frequently.
By doing thorough orthopedic exams and frequent exams, pain medications or x-rays can often be avoided.
Remote Medical International helps clients manage and improve the health and well-being of their global workforce. Through pre-employment screenings, on-site medical staff, and case management, we improve the quality of on-site medical care while reducing costs, contact us today.